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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 13290

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Lexchin J, Mintzes B.
Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs: The Evidence Says No
Journal of Public Policy and Marketing 2002; 21:(2):194-201


A small subset of drugs is advertised to the U.S. public: mainly new, expensive drugs for long-term use by wide target audiences. Most new drugs offer little if any therapeutic advantage over existing products. There is little rationale, from a public health perspective, for bringing this specific subset of products to consumers’ attention or establishing an emotional connection through advertising imagery and branding. DTC advertisements frequently downplay safety information as well as give consumers little, if any, educational information. Recent work suggests that physicians prescribe most advertised drugs requested by patients, often despite ambivalence about treatment choice. Studies assessing the influence of promotional information on prescribing decisions indicate a strong and consistent association between greater reliance on promotion and poorer quality prescribing. After more than 20 years of DTC advertising there is still no evidence that it results in any improvement in health outcomes. In the face of these findings, any move to relax existing regulations around DTC advertising must be resisted.


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